ENGAGING with the head and with the heart is the way to help others understand family violence, according to Australia's sex discrimination commissioner.
Visiting Castlemaine recently for the Mount Alexander Shire Council Leading the Change forum, Elizabeth Broderick said the greatest human rights abuse happening against women in Australia today was men's violence against women.
"I want to talk about men, the importance of strong powerful men really stepping up and taking this message to other powerful men because that's when we're going to see a real shift in this area,'' she said.
"What will it take to take men from being interested in the agenda to taking action? As we know, the path to gender equality is paved with good intentions, we need to really move beyond that.
"If we want to take men from interest to action, we have to make the case for change personal – we have to engage both the head and the heart.
"Powerful men need to hear first hand the personal narratives – they need to hear and feel the case for change.
"If we can leave with one message, it probably is that if we are serious about preventing violence against women then all the things that we do to move Australia to a more equal Australia will have some kind of positive impact.''
However, whilst Australia has come a long way, Ms Broderick believes there is much work to do.
"The nature of discrimination has changed – it used to be quite overt, I wasn’t able to hold a bank account, I wasn’t able to be in paid work, I wasn’t invited to join the superannuation fund ... all those things have gone.
"We have moved to what I call gender asbestos – that is that the limitation, the constraints, the indirect discrimination against women is actually built into the culture, the walls, the ceilings, the structures and practices of organisations. It’s very intangible, it’s hard to put your finger on it.
"That changed nature makes it even more difficult to actually deal with. If that’s a symptom and we’re saying a lot of this is about power, that’s at the heart of violence against women as well.
"Don’t think you have to be on the front line of violence prevention every day, it’s all the other things you do for an Australia where violence has no place.''